NOC chief Khadka’s fate hangs in balance

  • Supplies Ministry recommends action; Cabinet to decide on Monday
- Rajesh Khanal, Kathmandu

Sep 13, 2017-The Ministry of Supplies (MoS) has submitted a final report on the controversial land purchase deals of the Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), recommending action against Gopal Bahadur Khadka, chief of the state-owned oil monopoly.

Minister for Supplies Shiva Kumar Mandal said on Tuesday that the next Cabinet meeting, to be held on Monday, will most likely take a decision on the ministry’s recommendation.

An investigation conducted by the MoS, the NOC’s parent ministry, has found NOC Managing Director Khadka’s involvement in irregularities while buying land plots in four districts.

Action against Khadka has been recommended based on the findings of the ministry’s investigation.

Minister Mandal though refused to divulge the details, he hinted that Khadka could either be suspended or sacked.

“A Cabinet meeting will take a decision on the matter most likely on Monday,” said Minister Mandal.

Khadka has been accused of misappropriating around Rs 1 billion while purchasing land plots in Chitwan, Jhapa, Bhairahawa and Sarlahi for the construction of oil storage facilities.

A report made public by the sub-committee under the Industry, Commerce and Consumer Welfare Committee of Parliament on Monday said the NOC paid three-four times the going rate while buying the land plots in different locations and pointed to collusion between NOC officials and local government staffers.

According to the sub-committee report, the NOC board had spent Rs 850 million each to purchase 15-20 bigha land in Jhapa, 15 bigha land in Bhairahawa and 20 bigha land in Chitwan. Likewise, it spent Rs 100 million to buy four-five bigha land in Sarlahi.

The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) is also investigating into the irregularities in NOC’s land purchase deals. Preliminary investigation by the anti-corruption agency also has found NOC officials’ involvement in irregularities.

Earlier, the newly appointed Supplies Secretary Krishna Devkota had recommended action against Khadka.

Devkota, who heads the NOC board in capacity of supplies secretary, is said to have taken the decision without consulting other NOC board members.

“The NOC board chairman verbally informed us about his intention to recommend action against Khadka,” said an NOC board member on condition of anonymity. “This recommendation was later incorporated in the ministry’s report submitted to the PMO.”

Then Sushil Koiral-led government had appointed Khadka as the chief of the state-owned oil monopoly. Considering the nature of his appointment, only the Cabinet can sack Khadka.

Published: 13-09-2017 08:35

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